The first film in a planned trilogy, Brahmastra has truly been a passion project for director Ayan Mukerji who has spent almost a decade on the conceptualisation, creation and execution of the film. The idea came to Ayan as far back as 2011 when he was in the Himalayas. “The idea came to me like a bolt of lightning. This is truly my voice... it’s a new film, a new genre,” Ayan had told The Telegraph a few months ago in an in-depth chat about his film.
A lot of delays — the film was originally set to release in 2016, then 2018 and 2020 — has not only demanded prolonged and intense interest and engagement from all those involved in the film, but has also pushed its budget to a massive Rs 400-crore, the biggest for an Indian film till date.
With Brahmastra, Ayan plans to kick off his ‘Astraverse’, with the follow-up films focusing on the mythical astras in Hindu mythology. In this film, Shiva (Ranbir Kapoor), a young DJ, finds his world turning upside down when he discovers that he has the power of the Agnyaastra, the astra of the fire element. The working title of Brahmastra was ‘Dragon’ because of its protagonist’s connection to fire. Shiva also has a connection to a secret society of guardians named Brahmansh, headed by Guru, played by Amitabh Bachchan, who himself wields the Prabhastra or the ‘Sword of Light’.
Ranbir with Amitabh Bachchan
“I knew that I wanted to do something that was epic, blockbuster, fantasy — because I love fantasy — but which is inspired by Indian spirituality,” Ayan told The Telegraph when asked to pinpoint the genre Brahmastra belongs to.
Amitabh Bachchan has referred to the genre of the film as ‘modern mythology’, given that Brahmastra has a lot of motifs from Indian mythology and from ancient India, but is set in the modern world.
Nagarjuna Akkineni as Anish
The film pairs Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, who started dating while working on this film and are now expecting their first child together. Nagarjuna Akkineni returns to Bollywood after more than a decade-and-a-half, playing Anish, a member of Brahmansh who possesses the Nandiastra, or the power of strength. The antagonist named Junoon aka the ‘Queen of Darkness’ is played by Mouni Roy.
Mouni Roy as Junoon
Ever since the teaser of Brahmastra dropped a few months ago, fans have been speculating that Shah Rukh Khan puts in a cameo. In a recent interview, Mouni Roy has confirmed that SRK does feature in the film, which will mark the actor’s third special appearance this year, after Rocketry: The Nambi Effect and Laal Singh Chaddha. There are also whispers of Deepika Padukone and Dimple Kapadia featuring in Brahmastra.
While Bollywood has been taking baby steps as far as visual effects is concerned, Brahmastra will go the whole hog with reportedly as many as 3,000 VFX shots. “I believe our VFX in Brahmastra is of a very high standard. I don’t want to compare it to that of an Avatar. The truth is that we have to work very, very hard to get to that level. But I know Brahmastra is not something that we have seen in our films before. I know how much time we have taken on each shot in this film. We have stared at every shot more than a 100 times in order to perfect it. It’s taken 10 years of my life. The visual appeal of the film is such that people are going to love it,” Ayan had told The Telegraph. London functioned as the VFX hub of the film.
Location-wise, Brahmastra has been shot in Bulgaria, Edinburgh, London, New York and Varanasi.
With a runtime of 166 minutes, Brahmastra is longer than most Hindi films released in the recent past. Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha came close at 161 minutes. Will our time in the theatre be worth it? Let’s wait for Friday.
According to pre-release reports, even against the backdrop of boycott calls, about 1.3 lakh tickets for the film have already been booked in national multiplex chains for Friday and approximately
2 lakh over the first weekend. These are massive numbers, especially in the context of the big-budget disasters that have hit the Bollywood box office over the last few months. Brahmastra is also going wide with its release, opening in about 5,000 screens in India and 3,000 overseas. The film will release in 2D, 3D, IMAX 3D and 4DX 3D formats.
While pre-release publicity for the film has been muted, the makers are banking on the ever-dependable S.S. Rajamouli to pull in audiences in the southern part of the country. The man behind the Bahubali and RRR box-office behemoths is presenting the film in its dubbed Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada versions.